June 14, 2024

A baby has been born in Spain after growing inside the womb of its grandmother.

The mother of the infant had received a womb transplant from her mother two years prior and successfully birthed a baby boy on January 2. The baby, named Manuel, therefore developed in the same womb that his mother also grew inside.

“Before Manuel was born, I would talk to him and say: ‘I was in here too, you’ll be fine,'” the baby’s mother, Maira, told Barcelona’s Catalunya Ràdio.

This marks the first time that a child in Spain has been born from a womb donated by its own grandmother. The first time that a baby was born from a mother-daughter womb transplant was in Sweden in 2014 when Emelie Eriksson gave birth to a son from her mother’s womb at Sahlgrenska University Hospital of the University of Gothenburg.

Maira wasn’t able to get pregnant with her own uterus due to having a condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome, which is a rare congenital disorder that causes the underdevelopment of the female reproductive system. MRKH syndrome affects around one in every 4,500 women and is characterized by having a small or absent uterus and a shortened vagina. Those with MRKH usually cannot get pregnant.

womb transplant mother and new baby
Maira and her partner with their newborn. It’s the first time that a woman in Spain has birthed a baby using a womb transplanted from her mother.

Hospital Clínic Barcelona

Maira and her mother contacted Hospital Clínic de Barcelona—which had been researching delivering babies from transplanted wombs—hoping to be able to do the same.

“I thought: if I die, I will die happy, doing what I wanted or at least trying. And my mother said the same thing,” she said.

Womb transplants are incredibly complicated procedures, requiring a hysterectomy of the donor and recipient, followed by a successful installation of the donor uterus into the recipient.

“Maira was once inside the uterus that is now inside her. It is a medical and scientific milestone that deserves great credit, and is the result of the expertise of an excellent team of professionals who made it possible. It is an absolute paradigm shift in medicine,” Francisco Carmona, head of the Gynaecology Service at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, said in a statement.

Newsweek reached out to Hospital Clínic de Barcelona for comment.

After the transplant in early 2022, Maira underwent fertility treatment to get pregnant, having grown several embryos from her eggs and her partner’s sperm using in vitro fertilization. She became pregnant, and the baby was born via Cesarian section at 37 weeks. Uterine transplant patients are not advised to give birth vaginally.

Only eight hospitals in the world perform this procedure, with this marking the second time that Spain has ever seen a baby born from a donated womb. This first procedure—resulting in a baby born in March 2023—involved a sister donating her womb, however, not a mother.

uterus model
Stock image of a model uterus. A woman in Spain has given birth after receiving a uterus transplant from her own mother.

ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

A mother’s donated womb is just as viable for pregnancy as a younger donor’s, the doctors said.

“The uterus is perfectly viable. If you give these [uteruses] hormones, they menstruate again and become perfectly normal. We’re much more concerned that the donors are smokers than what age they might be,” Carmona told Catalunya Ràdio.

Maira and her family have since returned home to start their new lives, and Maira says that she hopes to have a second child soon.

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